Beta

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

In The Beginning & The Keys of Egypt

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the through-the-time-warp dept.

Encryption 365

honestpuck writes "Linguistics has long been an interest of mine, and one of my fields of study, and I've recently read two good books that combine linguistics with other topics. The Keys of Egypt is the tale of history's most famous decoding task, the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics and In The Beginning is the story of the King James Bible, the history, theology, politics, linguistics and technology that surrounded Bible translation and printing in Renaissance Europe and England." Read on for his combination review of two books that might inspire your curiosity, no matter how far from the usual Slashdot fare.

Hieroglyphs

The Keys Of Egypt was written by husband-and-wife archaeological team Lesley and Roy Adkins. It is subtitled "The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code," and starts with a short chapter that introduces the eventual winner of that race, the Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion, and mentions his most serious rival, the Englishman Thomas Young.

The book goes on to examine Napoleon's expedition to Egypt which both brought the Rosetta Stone to light and started a period of French and European fascination with ancient Egypt. These were the two catalysts for the riddle's eventual solution.

This is a well-written book that looks at the struggle and race for translation and the political and academic machinations (often both combined) that surrounded Champollion. It is essentially a biography of Champollion, who grew up and worked amid the turmoil of the Napoleonic era. The story is a compelling one and the authors have done well to make it at times fascinating.

As a genre I find that 'scientific biographies' tend to be a little overblown and flowery, the writing not quite precise -- and Keys suffers from these shortcomings. I also felt that while the book is subtitled "The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code" it really only focuses on Champollion, while he is the eventual winner a little more effort in examining the others involved in the effort would have improved the book.

The Bible

It can be argued that the King James Bible has had as large an effect on our language today as the work of Shakespeare. 'In The Beginning' has at its core the story of biblical translation, a topic you may think anything but fascinating. McGrath has done a good job in making this a compelling book.

He starts, as one may expect, with the story of Gutenberg and his first printed bibles. Before arriving at the King James he covers Martin Luther, the rise of Protestantism in Europe, Henry the Eighth, more than one hanging, and several other bible translations and translators. Along the way he manages to dispel a few myths I had held about biblical translation and the King James in particular. I always thought that it was the King James version that introduced the idea of the main body in roman type and words inserted to clarify meaning in italics, but it was actually an earlier English translation known as the Geneva Bible that first implemented this idea. After explaining the technology, theology, politics and linguistics nuances that led King James to permit (but not fund) a new translation, McGrath tells us how the translation was accomplished organizationally before examining some of the nuances of the translation itself. Some of the language in the King James was archaic even when it was published; translators had been instructed to lift from previous translations all the way back to the partial translation of William Tynsdale published 90 years earlier, and this at a time when the English language was going through the huge changes of the Elizabethan era. McGrath examines this aspect, pointing out such things as changes in verb endings and personal pronouns.

I found the book patchy. McGrath does a much better job covering the story up until the translation. It is harder to get a feel for how the translation was accomplished and how the various teams worked, and when he comes to examine some of the nuances of the translation, the text makes much harder going. If this had not been a part of the topic that interested me a great deal, I may have lost interest.

Conclusion

Both books may have their flaws but both are well worth the read. It is important to realise the history of science and language that have brought us to our current place and both these volumes do a good job of illuminating the past efforts of men who worked under entirely different pressures than we find today.


You can purchase both In The Beginning and The Keys of Egypt from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

cancel ×

365 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

EFF PEE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589054)

IN YOUR EYE!

1st (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589057)

egypt is a country of sand niggers

nuke them to hell

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589079)

YOUr FAILed fp is a post full of FAILURE!

In case /. gets /.'ed (-1, Redundant)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589060)


honestpuck writes "Linguistics has long been an interest of mine, and one of my fields of study, and I've recently read two good books that combine linguistics with other topics. The Keys of Egypt is the tale of history's most famous decoding task, the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics and In The Beginning is the story of the King James Bible, the history, theology, politics, linguistics and technology that surrounded Bible translation and printing in Renaissance Europe and England." Read on for his combination review of two books that might inspire your curiosity, no matter how far from the usual Slashdot fare.

Hieroglyphs
The Keys Of Egypt was written by husband-and-wife archaeological team Lesley and Roy Adkins. It is subtitled "The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code," and starts with a short chapter that introduces the eventual winner of that race, the Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion, and mentions his most serious rival, the Englishman Thomas Young.

The book goes on to examine Napoleon's expedition to Egypt which both brought the Rosetta Stone to light and started a period of French and European fascination with ancient Egypt. These were the two catalysts for the riddle's eventual solution.

This is a well-written book that looks at the struggle and race for translation and the political and academic machinations (often both combined) that surrounded Champollion. It is essentially a biography of Champollion, who grew up and worked amid the turmoil of the Napoleonic era. The story is a compelling one and the authors have done well to make it at times fascinating.

As a genre I find that 'scientific biographies' tend to be a little overblown and flowery, the writing not quite precise -- and Keys suffers from these shortcomings. I also felt that while the book is subtitled "The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code" it really only focuses on Champollion, while he is the eventual winner a little more effort in examining the others involved in the effort would have improved the book.

The Bible
It can be argued that the King James Bible has had as large an effect on our language today as the work of Shakespeare. 'In The Beginning' has at its core the story of biblical translation, a topic you may think anything but fascinating. McGrath has done a good job in making this a compelling book.
He starts, as one may expect, with the story of Gutenberg and his first printed bibles. Before arriving at the King James he covers Martin Luther, the rise of Protestantism in Europe, Henry the Eighth, more than one hanging, and several other bible translations and translators. Along the way he manages to dispel a few myths I had held about biblical translation and the King James in particular. I always thought that it was the King James version that introduced the idea of the main body in roman type and words inserted to clarify meaning in italics, but it was actually an earlier English translation known as the Geneva Bible that first implemented this idea. After explaining the technology, theology, politics and linguistics nuances that led King James to permit (but not fund) a new translation, McGrath tells us how the translation was accomplished organizationally before examining some of the nuances of the translation itself. Some of the language in the King James was archaic even when it was published; translators had been instructed to lift from previous translations all the way back to the partial translation of William Tynsdale published 90 years earlier, and this at a time when the English language was going through the huge changes of the Elizabethan era. McGrath examines this aspect, pointing out such things as changes in verb endings and personal pronouns.

I found the book patchy. McGrath does a much better job covering the story up until the translation. It is harder to get a feel for how the translation was accomplished and how the various teams worked, and when he comes to examine some of the nuances of the translation, the text makes much harder going. If this had not been a part of the topic that interested me a great deal, I may have lost interest.

Conclusion
Both books may have their flaws but both are well worth the read. It is important to realise the history of science and language that have brought us to our current place and both these volumes do a good job of illuminating the past efforts of men who worked under entirely different pressures than we find today.

FIRST POST

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589067)

first post

YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589101)

YoU fAiL iT1 yOu FaIl It!

YOU SO FUCKING FAIL IT!

Re:YOU FAIL IT! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589113)

you are SUCH A NIG - hahaha. are you a GAY NIG?

Re:YOU FAIL IT! (-1)

Suicide Bomberman (679592) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589449)

Fucking degenerate. Never mind though, in a few years you'll be eating cobalt 60 with all of your existentially diseased friends. The day is coming when the artificial suns will rain down and purge this land of all you vermin. And on the day after that, when you are lying on the ground dying of radiation poisoning, I will be there to kick your skull open and grind your decayed brain into the dust.

i think that this article is offtopic (-1, Troll)

phloydphreak (691922) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589077)

If I wanted to read about the translations of ancient texts I would. I come to slashdot for a reason. Moderate me into oblivion, but this is /. not Anthropology 101

"Would you like to see us rule again, my friend? All you need to do is follow the worms"

Re:i think that this article is offtopic (0, Troll)

MilesBehind (517130) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589197)

Ok, I don't know if I'm feeding the trolls here, it's mostly the misquoted sig that got me.

It's "Would you like to see Britannia rule again, my friend? All you have to do is follow the worms." Mr fucking Phloydphreak.

As for the other portion of this spiteful comment, it's news for nerds, and the nerds' interests are not limited to iPods, linux running on vibrators and mozilla 1.4.1 beta releases. So, if you no like, you no read. Simple!

Actually.... (0, Offtopic)

AriesGeek (593959) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589276)

If you listen to it, you hear "Would you like to see Britannia (us) rule again, my friend?" The "us" is sang by the backup vocals.

Oh. And you're being spiteful as well.

Re:i think that this article is offtopic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589389)

Moderate me into oblivion

Your wish is my command.

This public service announcement brought to you by ICBLF

Jerry Falwell sentences Timothy to Fatwah (0, Funny)

Adam Rightmann (609216) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589092)

for posting "The Bible... has its flaws".

It's okay Timothy, the True Church [vatican.va] understands the Bible can not be interpreted directly as the immutable Word of God, so if the heretical snake handlers come after you, you can seek refuge in Rome.

'Duh' is not the word. . . (1)

AsleepAtTheKeyboard (651681) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589160)

Nowhere in the review does it say the Bible has its flaws. The flaws are in the book 'In The Beginning' which he is reviewing. . .

I'd bet you would be the life of the party... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589538)

... if you ever got invited to one.

Interesting topics, horrible review (1, Offtopic)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589118)

Really, I've read better reviews on amazon.com. It reads like something a 5th grader turned in. There's nothing there to persuade or dissuade me from reading either book. What a waste of a front page slot.

Re:Interesting topics, horrible review (2, Funny)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589264)

You obviously went to a better fifth grade class than I did. I was virtually the only one in my fifth grade class who could put together a coherent sentence.

Re:Interesting topics, horrible review (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589386)

I quite agree. About all I got was, "It was compelling" Or, it was patchy.

I had hoped for a little background on each subject. What was discovered that first allowed the first insight behind the hieroglyphics?

What about the political courage of authors such as Tynsdale? Such translations must have been heretical to the Catholic Church at the time.

Great topics. Too bad I didn't get to learn more.. even about the books on the subject.

Re:Interesting topics, horrible review (1)

crow976 (244247) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589501)

It's just a review, it's not supposed to be some kind of award-material essay or something... and I don't see what is so horrible about it. It's friday man, chill out.

skcus xunil : sdrawkcab daeR (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589122)

!smiS "erawrosnec" leahciM dna serohw amrak rof tpexe serac ohw tub llort, 1- ,wonk I .niaga kcarc no era sdom eht dna srekcilsuna era AANG & erokllorT .siht daeR

Most *brilliant* decoding task. (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589135)


If you're intersted in decypherments you should look at John Chadwick's Decipherment of Linear B and more recent literature on that topic, a stunning intellectual feat done without the benefit of any Rosetta Stone.

Re:Most *brilliant* decoding task. (2, Interesting)

RobotWisdom (25776) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589529)

Even more recent is Faucounau's plausible approach to the Phaistos disk [robotwisdom.com]

No mention of Tyndale? (5, Interesting)

mrAgreeable (47829) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589153)

A shame. The King James Bible was almost certainly based on his translation. I've seen estimates that as much as 80% of the King James Bible was actually his work.

Like so many great reformers, he was put to death. His last known letter before [bible-researcher.com] he died is especially tragic to read.

The Tyndale Society [tyndale.org]

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (5, Informative)

pseudochaotic (548897) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589231)

He might have misspelled it in the review, but it's still there.

translators had been instructed to lift from previous translations all the way back to the partial translation of William Tynsdale published 90 years earlier

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (1)

mrAgreeable (47829) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589564)

Wow. Yeah. Well, it is slashdot, and reading the whole article before criticizing it would be out of line.

ok, so he misspelled tyndale... (1)

airdrummer (547536) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589247)

"...previous translations all the way back to the partial translation of William Tynsdale published 90 years earlier..."

but i consider that a mention;-)

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (1)

rk2z (649358) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589305)

Hello?!

what about this sentence:

McGrath tells us how the translation was accomplished organizationally before examining some of the nuances of the translation itself. Some of the language in the King James was archaic even when it was published; translators had been instructed to lift from previous translations all the way back to the partial translation of William Tynsdale published 90 years earlier, and this at a time when the English language was going through the huge changes of the Elizabethan era.

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589336)

Tyndale was truly a great man.

His knowledge of languages was very great.

It's tragic that he died, but atleast his final prayer on the burning stake was answered with the KJV:

"Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

The estimates are not that 80% of the KJV is based on his work, but that 80% is similar.

What this means is that England's 47 best Hebrew and Greek scholar's of the day only disagreed with him on 20% of the bible.

What an accomplishment for Tyndale.

And his mission was eventually also fullfilled with Gutenberg and the KJV, so that the boy in the field may know more about the God's Word then the bishop of the Church Of England.

You know we have christianity and the bible to thank for popularizing literacy.

The chinese had the printing press a long time ago, but they didn't have the bible and thus no motive for teaching everyone to read, while western europe valued literacy very greatly because of the bible, their Holy book.

Jews also had this advantage, in ancient times when most people didn't care to read/write every Jewish boy was being thaught to read their scriptures.

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589348)

Yes it was a tragedy that Tyndale was captured by the Roman Catholic Church and put to death because he had the audacity to suggest that laymen should be able to read the Bible without the help of a priest.

But no, he did not make up 80% of the KJV; there are much better books detailing the history of the KJV. See "Defending the King James Bible" by Dr. D.A. Waite, or "Examining the King James Only Controversy" by David Cloud.

Just avoid books by Peter Ruckman; the guy is a nut.

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589521)

Yes it was a tragedy that Tyndale was captured by the Roman Catholic Church and put to death because he had the audacity to suggest that laymen should be able to read the Bible without the help of a priest.

Martin Luther almost suffered the same fate for the same reason.

Re:No mention of Tyndale? (1)

blamanj (253811) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589419)

Like so many great reformers, he was put to death.

Funny you should mention that, and not the irony of it all. He was put to death for translating the Bible into English.

(You could argue that it was for disobeying authority, etc., but the creation of the English language Bible is what got him into hot water.)

Just a question about translations... (5, Interesting)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589155)

Has anyone in the last couple of decades attempted a translation from the oldest possible sources for the Bible's contents?

While I'm sure it would piss off a few here and there (see what happened with Jewish scholars when those scrolls were translated a while back) it would be interesting to compare a direct translation based on modern understanding to the more popular current versions that have passed through multiple interpretations through multiple cultural lenses.

Re:Just a question about translations... (3, Informative)

JDBrechtel (48222) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589285)

I believe the NIV (New International Version) of the bible was translated recently (1965) and I'm sure would have only used the oldest sources.

Here's some more info

http://www.gospelcom.net/ibs/niv/background.php

Re:Just a question about translations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589475)

No, the NIV uses the Westcott and Hort greek manuscripts, which were badly corrupted. So did the NASB, NLT, TNIV, etc. For more information about how bad the "older" manuscripts are, see here [wayoflife.org] .

Re:Just a question about translations... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589306)

According to my Jews for Jesus acquaintance, it does not matter. All bible translation occurs under the influence of God and is immune from question.

Yeah, that's what I thought when I heard it too...

Hebraic Roots Version Complete Bible (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589372)

http://www.nazarene.net/products.htm

This page has other interesting stuff at well.
Btw, in this bible the new Testament is translated from Aramaic and not from Greek(as in most other bibles)!

Re:Hebraic Roots Version Complete Bible (2, Insightful)

Zooks! (56613) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589530)

These guys must be try to pull one over on you because the New Testament was originally written greek.

Re:Just a question about translations... (1)

the_helper_monkey (553335) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589384)

I'm not sure what you mean by "more popular current versions" but all the current versions I know of attempt to go back to the oldest possible sources. The problem with doing that is that it can be hard to date the texts and most of the old texts are only partial. But that's what makes translating the Bible so interesting. There are enough sources with enough variation that many words translated needs to be interpreted. Usually this interpretation is based on one's theology, which is why there are so many different versions.

Re:Just a question about translations... (4, Informative)

young-earth (560521) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589440)

The question is what is the oldest manuscript. For the Greek (NT) portion, the Roman Catholic Church has two rather badly corrupted manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) which were basically unused for 1500 years or so. Unused because they were so corrupt. An unused manuscript gets to be an old manuscript; valid ones get used and copied, so the request for the oldest is actually a bit off the mark.

It is widely known that the best Greek text is the "Textus Receptus"; the altered text or "Westcott and Hort" or "Nestle-Aland" text is the one based on the corrupted manuscripts.

Unfortunately, in the 20th and 21st centuries the only new translations that have been done were based on the Westcott and Hort manuscripts. The last translation done from a good manuscript is the KJV.

The Hebrew text that's been proven totally accurate, by comparison with the Dead Sea Scrolls, is the Masoretic text. And guess what, that's in the KJV. I don't think any modern translations have used that, but I'm not certain on that point.

Note the reason for this: you can't copyright something unless it's sufficiently DIFFERENT from something that's in the public domain. The KJV was never copyrighted; all the new translations are done for-profit and are copyrighted (with one exception, the World English Bible). So of course the new translations are different, they wouldn't be worth anything (profit-wise) if they weren't. But there's no indication the KJV is wrong.

In point of fact, the KJV was translated when the English language was at its zenith (it was contemporary with Shakespeare).

Re:Just a question about translations... (5, Informative)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589510)

"It is widely known that the best Greek text is the "Textus Receptus"; the altered text or "Westcott and Hort" or "Nestle-Aland" text is the one based on the corrupted manuscripts." This is idiotic, and I'll explain why: The Textus Receptus was created in 1518 by Desiderius Erasmus, a very wise scholar of many ancient languages. Unfortunately, dear old Erasmus had access to only a handful of Byzantine-tradition manuscripts for his Textus Receptus, so it absolutely positively cannot be a more reliable source than the emended texts available today. Incidentally, his only copy of the book of Revelations was missing the last few pages! His solution: he retranslated the Vulgate's Latin text of the pages into Greek, so his last few chapters of Revelation were a translation of a translation... think about a video that goes through multiple standards conversions and you get the impression of what the TR's last few pages of Revelations look like. Ah, the extents to which people will go to discredit Alexandrine-tradition manuscripts anymore... (of course, the Gospel of John text in Sinaiticus is Byzantine, but I suppose that spells the difference between "badly corrupted" and "totally corrupted" to the otherwise uneducated.

Re:Just a question about translations... (5, Informative)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589450)

Almost all major translation efforts carried out since the release of the Revised Standard Version have used as their reference texts the Nestle-Aland and UBS revisions of the Greek New Testament, which are critical texts based on the oldest available sources for the NT. There is no doubt that translations effected today are based on much better-attested texts than what was available to the creators of the King James Version, since certain discoveries had simply not been made by that point. In fact, one of the "baseline" texts for the NA/UBS editions is Codex Sinaiticus, a fourth-century well-preserved Greek New Testament manuscript that was only rediscovered in the nineteenth century. Hic parvus porcus ad forum veni...

Re:Just a question about translations... (2, Interesting)

cford (141147) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589455)

I think the International Standard Version (ISV) does that. It is a very recent translation. In fact, I don't think they've finished translating the Old Testament portion yet. The New Testament portion is available though, in hard-copy or electronic forms. You can see what texts they use as their base texts at the Translation Principles [isv.org] page on their website: ISV [isv.org]

Re:Just a question about translations... (4, Interesting)

RobotWisdom (25776) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589465)

Has anyone in the last couple of decades attempted a translation from the oldest possible sources for the Bible's contents?

I tried to inventory all online translations and most major offline versions here [robotwisdom.com]

Re:Just a question about translations... (4, Informative)

Teach (29386) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589518)

...the more popular current versions that have passed through multiple interpretations through multiple cultural lenses.

The New International Version dates from 1978, and many consider it to be very good. The updated New American Standard was originally done in 1971, but was updated as recently as 1995. Both are "from scratch" translations from the most reliable texts currently available, so neither has passed through "multiple cultural lenses". And I'd say the NIV is the most popular current translation (for Protestants, anyway), so your assertion is incorrect.

You can find information on other modern translations at Zondervan's site [zondervanbibles.com] .

Interpretation of any centuries-old work is difficult, and involves two phases. First is exegesis, the careful, systematic study of the Scripture to discover the original, intended meaning. That is, what was the original writer attempting to say to the original audience? This is where better understanding of the source language and the culture at the time of writing is most helpful.

The second phase is hermeneutics, the contemptorary relevance of ancient texts. That is, given the original, intended meaning of this passage, what does it mean to me, today?

An excellent book discussing proper exegesis and hermeneutics, looking book-by-book at each literary type in the Bible is How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth [barnesandnoble.com] , by Stuart and Fee. I highly recommend it for those interested in the subject.

Re:Just a question about translations... (2, Informative)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589526)

  • Has anyone in the last couple of decades attempted a translation from the oldest possible sources for the Bible's contents?
That's exactly where the American Standard Version (and its crippled counterpart the Revised Standard Version), Darby's New Translation, the New Internation Version (more of "thought translation" than "word by word") and other modern translations have come from. The latest work on reconstituting the oldest and closest-to-the-original (sometimes the oldest available isn't the most authentic...think about it; sometimes a revision is better preserved than a revered and faithfully copied original) bibical texts is embodied in the United Bible Society's Nestle-Aland Greek Text of the New Testament.

For a compendium of many translations see The Bible Gateway [biblegateway.com] .

A quick look on the Net for more info should you be interested lead me to this [bible-researcher.com] page, which APPEARS to be a fairly decent resource for more info on this topic. (*I haven't reviewed it thoroughly just briefly--but it rings objective*)

Re:Just a question about translations... (1)

The Wookie (31006) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589531)

Even some of the modern translations, supposedly based on what we think are the most accurate and usually oldest sources, still reflect some cultural biases.

Part of the problem is that the meanings of the words are often debatable. You might find a word used only once or twice. You might have some idea of the meaning, but not necessarily the exact context.

Even then, however, there are probably biases in the original text because the oldest fragments of text we have are probably more than 100 years older than the original texts. We don't know how often they were copied and how much they were changed.

Even if you had the papyrus or parchment that Paul himself (or a scribe) had written, there would still be debates on the meaning.

Re:Just a question about translations... (0)

FesterDaFelcher (651853) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589535)

Everyone knows that the Book of Mormon (genuflect) is the only true translation.

Languages (5, Interesting)

borkus (179118) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589165)

In university, I was an Enlgish major with a habit of studying other languages - specifically, French, Russian and Old Icelandic. Studying human languages, you quickly realize that there are many ways to express the same abstractions - a realization that has helped me as a programmer.

Yeah, the review could have been better. I would have like to known more about some of the linguistic problems sovled on both books.

Re:Languages (2, Funny)

sanchny (692285) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589447)

In university, I was an Enlgish major with a habit of studying other languages - specifically, French, Russian and Old Icelandic. Studying human languages, you quickly realize that there are many ways to express the same abstractions
But how do you express irony in other languages?

Religion (4, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589175)

I've been having these troubling thoughts since a couple of years...approximately since the first Matrix was released.

Not that I'm an atheist or anything, but I've been developing a feeling off late, that religion was introduced in ancient times as a deterrent against perceived immoral/harmful behavior. In the absence of effective law-enforcement agencies, the best way to encourage people to act peacefully/etc was to lay down a set of rules of "acceptable behaviour" and make it known that breach of the rules would result in punishment in the form of hell or alternately reward in the form of heaven.

I think the world has developed enough now, that we no longer need religion as a deterrent. It serves more as a tool for discrimination/fanaticism, rather than what it was intended for.

Not sure if there are other people who've thought along these lines...who knows, I may be the ONE :)
*wears Matrix goggles and gets back to work*

Wow! You are the one. Now, just sue Neitsche, (3, Funny)

typical geek (261980) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589196)

Keirkegaard, Satre and Camus for IP infringement, at least for a start.

Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589284)

Did we assign moderator status to a bunch of 3rd graders? If the parent poster has had an epiphany due to Matrix over the fact that there are strong similarities in Bible mandated behaviour and moral/ethical/civic behaviour, then I guess they finally stopped reading their comic books long enough to actually think about the real world for a second. Not to mention his conclusion (no longer need religion as a deterent) is about as ignorant as you get.

Re:Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589333)

True, the moderation here has always been, um, patchy. But if he has stopped reading comics to think about the real world, surely that's a good thing. Encouragement might be more appropriate than insults.

Re:Religion (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589287)

I guess you've never heard, or heard but didn't understand, the phrase "God is dead" [age-of-the-sage.org] ?

Re:Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589290)

It so scares me whenever I see "The Matrix" and "thinking" in the same sentence.

Re:Religion (2, Insightful)

lscotte (450259) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589302)

religion was introduced in ancient times as a deterrent against perceived immoral/harmful behavior

Yes, of course it was! It surprises me that so few people seem to realize this. The best way to get people to follow some set of societal laws is to scare them into not violating such laws. The threat of 'eternal damnation' and promise of 'eternal life' clearly comes from this.

Re: Bad logic being used (2, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589380)

Yes, of course it was! It surprises me that so few people seem to realize this.

But you can't use the fact that it might make sense to use it this way as an argument for the FACT that that was it's intended purpose. That's like saying that super glue, because it is effective at bonding things together, was created to repair china. While it may be true that it is good for that, it is wrong (originally created to help close wounds in triage on the battle field). So just because your explanation fits, doesn't make it the correct explanation. (god I hope none of you guys are detectives).

Re:Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589417)

Yes, a not surprising, simplistic assessment of a complex, living social institution by someone seeking so support his own naive beliefs.

Re:Religion (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589341)

There are some (don't ask me for URLs or references, cause it's just crap I read on a science news site... somewhere... sometime) who believe that the stories of Armageddon come from a time long before recorded history when the Middle East was struck by a heavy bombardment of small meteors.

I believe the theory is that predispositions in our minds that evolved for other reasons latched on to this traumatic event and came up with religion.

I tend to believe that we're wired by nature in such a way that we would have come up with the concept anyway, but it's a neat theory. The fact that the Church inevitably became an instrument of power to rival Kings is so totally unremarkable that I'm not going to remark on it!

Re:Religion - OT (1)

Keighvin (166133) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589358)

To look at this from a point of secular evolution, exherting an influence over the masses was only one particular motivation; that it would maintain a power for few over that of the many. Even the un- or ill- educated wouldn't have thrown straight in with that lot, as it would be a voluntary loss of freedom - also, those in power would have little need to control the perceived morality of others unless it had a direct hold on the ability to control itself.

The motivation originally was the other way round - to liberate the downtrodden with thoughts of an eventual better, even if not realized in this life. How else could one prevent from despairing in the worst of conditions (which were pretty bad way back when all survival was short and toilsom) than not to accept them as a final end? To endow the afterlife with possibility was to achieve sustaining hope.

Eventually, yes, this hope began to be exploited through craftiness to maintain comforts by plying on the beliefs of others (though of course there were some genuine believers in it all). This is speaking to the rise of Western religions.

That's looking at it secularly - I don't perceive religion myself to be any kind of self administered mental opiate for my placation, but how I genuinely feel the cosmos to be organized for the sake of its own existence.

Re:Religion - OT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589540)

I don't perceive religion myself to be any kind of self administered mental opiate for my placation, but how I genuinely feel the cosmos to be organized for the sake of its own existence
what the fuck?

Re:Religion (1)

acidtripp101 (627475) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589385)

actually, I went through (and still believe in) that method of thought. I did some research on religion shortly after, and what I found out is that many (I'm not willing to say all) western religions have a story about the beggining, and a set of strict guidelines. As was stated in your post, some people are now starting to believe that religion was an early form of morals-based 'government' (poor word choice... but the idea is still there).

On the other hand, many eastern religions don't require absolute devotion to just 1 religion (ie Many Buddhists living in christian environments celebrate Christmas).

If you've got the feeling that religion was established as a deterrent, check out some eastern religions (Taoism, Buddhism, etc.). My personal experience is that many (again... not all) tend to be geared towards more personal achievements/improvements than adhering to a set of strict rules.

Even if you don't find anything you like, it's always a good idea to be worldly on these kinds of things (It always bugs me when people think buddhists worship buddha)

Re:Religion (2, Insightful)

DaFlusha (224762) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589408)

You're right, but you're only seeing one side of religion. There's this thing called "spirituality" as well. And although I think organized religion is a pretty dry source of spirituality, that's another reason for its existence. I don't think it's possible to retain a valid model for a complex concept like religion by reducing it to a single societal need.

Religion and other, same old song (3, Interesting)

plemeljr (250971) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589424)

You also have to look at history to gain understanding and context of why certain church events are placed where they were. Christmas was moved to the winter in order to combat a popular winter occult festival [tripod.com] . Not only that, but remember that during the early formation of the Christian church, Rome was in the heydey of its power. The Jewish/Christian problems with self-image and body issues are a direct result of trying to turn away from "matters of the flesh" which Rome so famously embodied. But remember that religion has always been used as a dividing force: Christians in Venice rounded up Jews and placed them into a ghetto long before Hitler did this, and for many of the same reasons: fear of the other. I like to think that there is a divide: faith is from God/Deity/etc and good, while religion is a human construct that is more often than naught fsked up and twisted.

I don't think this lessens my christian belief - it just adds context and deepens the reasons.

Re:Religion (3, Interesting)

KillerHamster (645942) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589425)

*prepares to be modded down by liberals*

The problem with trying to analyze why religions were "made up" and what social purposes (deterrence, discrimination, thought control, etc.) they are used for is that it ignores the possibility that there actually is a God, and that which we call "religion" came to exist as a result of God's revelation of himself, not as a result of random guesses or evil conspiracies. Everyone wants to treat religion as merely an object of study, like politics or literature...but has it occurred to anyone that there may actually be truth to it? And if there is a God and an afterlife, and your life on earth determines where you will spend eternity, isn't this something you just might want to take seriously? I mean, eternity is an awfully long time, and a lake of fire doesn't sound like too much fun.

Re:Religion (1)

Schezar (249629) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589492)

Heh..

Eternity. So a finite crime begets infinite punishment? Doesn't sound fair to me.

Personally, were I to die and find out that the christians were right, I'd join up with Lucifer in hell. I mean, I'm sure he'd take care of his own. Even if not, you have an eternity to get used to that lake of fire. Adapt: prove Darwin right ;^)

How about ignored? (1, Troll)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589506)

Too many religious morons to mod down, so we just ignore them.

Occam's Razor... (5, Insightful)

UnrefinedLayman (185512) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589523)

...just sliced your reply in two.

Sorry, but when faced with the two choices of:

(a) There is a god, and he caused the creation of religion

and

(b) There is no god, and religion is an institution that has its roots in superstition and social control

One has to make the most likely choice given the evidence at hand. Most logical, lucid people who discount that which cannot be proven find themselves coming to logical conclusions.

It amazes me how some people (not necessarily you) will suspend the very logic which they use in every other aspect of their life just for the chance to believe in something or someone that, for all intents and purposes, doesn't exist.

Re:Religion (3, Insightful)

JesterXXV (680142) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589556)

...but has it occurred to anyone that there may actually be truth to it?

It occured to me for about 18 years. Then, suddenly, it occured to me that it might all be made up. And everything made much more sense that way.

Re:Religion (1)

lovebyte (81275) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589474)

LOL. What you are saying here, is what many philosophers have been saying for about 200 years. Without the references to the Matrix, obviously.

Not that I'm an atheist or anything
Sounds like you think that being an atheist is a bad thing. It is not.

Re:Religion (2, Insightful)

bigfleet (121233) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589484)

Be careful that you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Organized religion may been been instituted by chiefs to validate their rule (along with other things, like what you suggest), but to believe that what we say, think, or do has any bearing on whether there actually is some creator-being outside our system is misguided.

You may find the way the methods of organized religion distasteful, their beliefs flawed, their system corrupt, but it does not mean that religion itself is an "invention" without merit.

Re:Religion (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589496)

Neal Stephenson, for one...

Christianity started going away in the Renaissance. Not much left of it by now.

Understatement? (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589195)

It can be argued that the King James Bible has had as large an effect on our language today as the work of Shakespeare.

I'm no expert on this but that seems like a huge understatement -- Shakespeare invented a few words and turned an enormous number of common phrases, but the King James translation surely had an even larger impact on English, no?

If only for being responsible for the inversion of "thee/thou/thy" from familiar to formal speech.

Wrong (4, Informative)

jbellis (142590) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589359)

KJV is not even a little 'responsible for the inversion of "thee/thou/thy."' It was using these in the familiar sense, which was the sense used in the greek original of the NT, and thus was REINFORCING the original connotation of these words rather than inverting it...

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/m971211c.htm l

http://www.linguistlist.org/~ask-ling/archive-mo st -recent/msg10071.html

http://www.bartleby.com/61/66/Y0026600.html

http://www.kencollins.com/why-05.htm

Re:Wrong (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589515)

Sorry, I was unclear -- let me try that again:

The KJV authors chose to use the familiar "thee/thou/thy" instead of the more formal "you/your", a distinction that doesn't exist in the original Hebrew. Over time, as the familar sense died out in English, people began to associate it with its religious context and those words took on their current tone of formality.

So the choice to use the familiar in the KJV is responsible for the later inversion of the familiar to the formal. Better?

Interesing tastes in books. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589215)

The Keys of Egypt is the tale of history's most famous decoding task, the translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics and In The Beginning is the story of the King James Bible, the history, theology, politics, linguistics and technology that surrounded Bible translation and printing in Renaissance Europe and England.

And we fucking care why?

Should have used PGPP on the cartouches (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589223)

I told pharaoh to use Pretty Good Pharaoh Privacy on those damn cartouches. France was just a mote in Isis's eye at the time, but even then I knew they would turn out to be nothing but troublemakers.

King James Bible vs. Shakespeare (4, Interesting)

aclarke (307017) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589230)

Comparing the impact of the Kings James Bible versus the entire works of Shakespeare is an interesting task, especially as the two men were contemporaries.

One thing to note are the political motivations behind the translation of the King James Bible. This translation was mandated to be used in all Church of England services, IIRC. It was instrumental in helping King James wrest control of England from the Catholic church to the Church of England (controlled by the monarch, i.e. James himself). This gave the British monarchy significantly more power in their own country, as well as preventing such a large portion of the funds from being diverted to the Vatican.

As a spiritual and literary work, the King James Bible has had an immense impact on western culture. It has also had a large impact on Great Britain, and, in turn, its many former colonies. Mute your sound beforehand, but there are some interesting articles about King James and the period here [jesus-is-lord.com] .

Re:King James Bible vs. Shakespeare (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589281)

The KJ bible is THE cornerstone of English literature, a fact that faces opposition from both fundamentalist Christians ("consider it as literature? heresy!") and atheists ("something religious having any value? heresy!") alike.

Re:King James Bible vs. Shakespeare (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589373)

I read the bible once, it was ok. I like Tom Clancy better though.

King James Bible by Shakespeare? (1)

crow (16139) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589479)

There's a theory that Shakespeare actually worked on the King James Bible. I never looked into it enough to decide if it was some nut trying to get attention or something with serious merrit.

Re:King James Bible by Shakespeare? (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589493)

Naw, look at my post in this thread. I had an english prof (fairly well esteemed by his peers) who believes exactly that, and had done a lot of research to back it up.

Warning (1)

KillerHamster (645942) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589513)

I wouldn't take anything from jesus-is-lord.com seriously. That site is one of the most discriminatory, hateful sites I have seen. I find it even more offensive than the KKK or American Nazi Party sites. Furthermore, both their history and theology are screwed up. Think of it as religious FUD.

God's Secretaries (3, Informative)

marklandm (91990) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589240)

I found the following book to be very interesting as it describs many of the people involved in the King James Version of the Bible in detail.

_God's Secretaries : The Making of the King James Bible_

by Adam Nicolson

Unfortunately I haven't read the book the poster discusses so I cannot make a comparison.

The History of the Bible (5, Informative)

dodell (83471) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589241)

Well, I personally think its unfair to start the history of the bible at the time of the printing press. A Grand Funk Electric song captures this best - "You've got the English translation of the Roman translation of the Greek translation of the pure Babylonian". Indeed, the King James translation of the Bible is one of many English translations of the Bible. Starting one's Bible history from ca. 1450 (when the Bible first began being pressed) simply does not seem fair to me.

The first translations were made ca. 200 BC, and was the "Septuagint" - from Hebrew to Greek translation (the Old Testament). It was not until ca. 400 AD that the Hebrew version of the Old Testament was translated into Latin; the New Testament was translated from Greek to Latin -- the Old Testament was re-translated. The manuscripts on which these translations were based are no longer present in the whole.

In my opinion, there is a rich history to be told in the differences between translations of the Bible from original to later versions. Hell, one could back into European translations of the Bible and teach an entire story based upon the discrepancies of copies of the hand-written versions.

There's a rich history to the translation of the Bible. Google for it [google.com] .

/. merges with Kuro5hin (-1, Troll)

JohnGrahamCumming (684871) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589254)

Is it just me or does that story seem to have *nothing* to do with "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters"?

Or did /. just get bought out by Kuro5hin?

John.

Re:/. merges with Kuro5hin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589259)

Where would Kuro5hin get the $50 bucks to buy out VA's stock?

But what about the threat of the Ga'ould? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589265)

Will the SG1 team be able to stop them for much longer? They've gotten quite lucky in the past, and Anubis is their biggest threat ever.

Lesley and Roy Adkins in Utah? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589275)

While these books may seem well researched and informative, it is important to note their main [ucdavis.edu] financial contributer while doing their research was the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints [lds.org] (Mormons [mormon.org] ). In fact, the publishers [harpercollins.com] of these two books was founded in New York, but moved it's headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah, and is majority owned by the Mormons.

Why does all that matter? Conflict of interest. Remember, the mormons are the ones that claim their founder, Joseph Smith [lds.org] , translated a previously "hidden" "message from God" into english from ... Egyptian heiroglyphics. And while his translation has been completely debunked [bibleman.net] , millions of Mormons continue to believe. And the Mormon church wants nothing more than to trick more people. So they Have hired Lesley and Roy Adkins to slowly add credibility to their story of "enlightenment from God through their prophet".

This is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, and they are trying to legitimize their claims. In fact, Mormons have already invaded much of the U.S. political system [google.com] and once in power, they will censor all other belief systems and, using their overseas propoganda army [pbs.org] they will attempt to take over the world.

If you buy into these books, you are buying in to the Mormon conspiracy.

This public service announcement brought to you by ICBLF

Qu'ran mistranslation (4, Informative)

scrotch (605605) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589298)

On a related note, people interested in these books may be interested in this story [msnbc.com] (via metafilter) about how the Qu'ran as it's known now may be a mistranslation of the original.

Re:Qu'ran mistranslation (1)

Mr. Droopy Drawers (215436) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589536)

Here's what I consider something of a review of anothers' research. MSNBC gave a brief overview of Luxenberg's forthcoming book (maybe out now?), his research, and examples of the revelations that be brings. Finally, an example of why such translation is important and what some of the research reveals.

That's what I had hoped for in the review...

Regarding the Book on Hieroglyphics (3, Informative)

dodell (83471) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589318)

There's also a rich history to the development of the Egyptian writing style of hieroglyphics throughout the entirety of the Egyptian era. Indeed, the Rosetta Stone, the key to the translation of the hieroglyphics was written using no less than three different scripts of hieroglyphics. More information about the Rosetta Stone is available here [ancientegypt.co.uk] .

I'll read this review... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6589362)

... as long as the submitter doesn't give away the endings.

AC is for commies :-) (-1)

Suicide Bomberman (679592) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589364)

Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away
Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the airYou better watch out there may be dogs about
Well I have looked over Jordan and I have seen Things are not what they seem
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real? Meek and obedient you follow the leader
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel What a surprise
A look of terminal shock in your eyes Now things are really what they seem
No this is no bad dream

The winner of the race to crack the code... (0, Offtopic)

sanchny (692285) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589374)

...the eventual winner of that race, the Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion
You ruined the ending!

Bible was translated??? Damnable LIES (3, Funny)

Mr.Sharpy (472377) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589402)

Pfft...everybody knows the bible came down from heaven in Renaissance era English way back in the day. Imagine the trouble Moses had trying to explain the Ten Commandments without knowing what language they were in! Fortunately, God guided our language in such a way that we are today able to read it.

The idea that the words of the bible changed to English from some heathen language is an evil LIE and work of the Devil! Everybody knows that Jesus was and his disciples were English speaking white men! Haven't you seen the movie! and TBN! They couldn't possibly be wrong!

Shakespeare and the King James bible (0, Redundant)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589448)

It can be argued that the King James Bible has had as large an effect on our language today as the work of Shakespeare.

I had an english lit prof who argues that the King James edition of the Bible, or at least portions of it, were written by Shakespeare (he also believes Shakespeare was more than one guy).

He cites simliar styles of prose, the fact that King James was Shakespeare's patron, and basically has a ton of research to back up his position.

Unicode and Hieroglyphics (1)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589473)


To ask a totally random and silly question, does Unicode support Egyptian hieroglyphics, or is it technically counted among the non-living languages not supported?

But did they catch Shakespear's Signature? (3, Interesting)

ssclift (97988) | more than 10 years ago | (#6589520)

It's perhaps an old urban legend that William Shakespear (spelled here without the terminal 'e', both spellings seem to be around) was consulted on the poetry of the Psalms. Presented as evidence:

KJV Psalm 46 [virginia.edu]

Note that 4+6 = 10, the number of letters in Shakespear. Count to the 46th word from the beginning, you see "shake" and the 46th word from the end (excluding the "Selah", a musician notation, IIRC) you have "spear"...

I'd love to find out if the Bard really did have a hand in it... which one might hope this book would...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>